So according to my somewhat hagiographic biography of Graf von Lüttichau the man himself wrote a book about Friedrich Wilhelm IV and his wife Elisabeth Ludovica in 1894. The Graf had been Kammerherr to Elisabeth for the last few years of her life so should have some idea of the subject.
Thanks to the wonder of Abe Books I found a copy, same year and publisher as described in the biography. The binding is not exactly to my taste but it’s an interesting little book nonetheless.
Well I’ve finally finished the first volume; Lebensbeschreibung, of Marwitz’s Nachlasse, after starting reading it shortly after the New Year. I’ve enjoyed it immensely, slow history is the only way to attempt to get close to long-dead people, although the passage of time and my basic grasp of German keeps me at a respectful distance. Which seems fitting.
A couple of final thoughts. Why did Marwitz think that George Canning, founder of Anti-Jacobin of all things, was a liberal and one of the biggest fools ever to walk the earth (einer der größten Narren, die die Erde je getragen – pg. 466)? I also loved the timelessness of “ein nicht liberaler Gelehrter ist so selten wie ein weißer Rabe” (pg. 468), some things never change.
However there’s no need to worry about a lack of content to come for this blog as I’ve just begun the second volume; Militairische & Politische Aufsätze. I’m sure that’s a relief for both of you.
2nd edition, 1852, a little tatty but solid. I’m confident that it will provide the opportunity for a few more blogposts yet…
*Edit: Now sandwiched in my bookcase between Bismarck’s Gedanken und Erinnerungen and a book of his speeches. You can feel the spinning in the Bismark Mausoleum.
A new purchase, once again inspired by a reference in Marwitz’s memoirs (Seite 77), apparently he read this whilst stuck in Nieszawa in Poland without German books or newspapers. A present for his brother that fortunately he had been unable to deliver.
A lovely little book, full of poems, prayers and short stories, all you need to correctly bring up a Prussian. More of an insight into the way people thought in that time and place than any historian could tell me, I like to imagine.
Another incident, this time at the Huldigung for Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1798, sounds like a good day out. Somewhat of an anti-democracy theme so stay away if you’re a true believer, as most are today.
Marwitz, not a particular fan of democracy, probably understandable given the recent (and continuing) events during the French Revolution, was not overly impressed by the presence of Abbé Sieyès as the French representative: “ein Kerl mit einem wahren Canaillen-Gesicht, mit seinem schwarzen Kopf (damals ging noch Alles gepudert) und mit seiner enormen dreifarbigen Schärpe.” (A wretch with a proper dog’s face, black hair — powdered wigs were still the current fashion — and a gigantic tri-coloured sash).
To make his day even better, a guest at a nearby table began spouting the latest fashionable socialist views (hardly the right time and place one would have thought), the first time that Marwitz had heard such views spoken aloud. Another nearby guest (Major von Bredow, perhaps related to him of the trousers fame) was even more incensed, rising red-faced from his chair he states: “Jetzt ist es genug! Infamer Hallunke, wenn er nun nicht den Augenblick das Maul hält, so wahr ich lebe, ich packe ihn, und werfe ihn hier zu dem Fenster hinaus!” (That’s enough, you scoundrel, if you don’t shut up this moment I’ll pick you up and throw you out the window!). The socialist, understandably, shuts up.
To the denigration of my bank balance Marwitz mentions that a commemorative Medallion was under each napkin on the table, so of course I had to buy one.
I found the entry in Marwitz’s Nachlasse about his education interesting, interesting enough to obtain a 1781 copy of one of his textbooks. The idea of seeing part of that which informed the mind of someone of his time and class was just too tempting. Undoubtedly it will be the source of several more barely readable posts. 236 years old!
In fairly good condition, cost around 20 Euro, I’m looking forward to reading it.
It might be interesting to see at what point in his varied political opinions this was written, conservative or liberal.
What prompted me to post however is the handwritten inscription in the front cover; it appears to be in Latin script although I can’t read the first line, but the second line clearly says: “Kreigsjahr 1918”.
Obviously the writer would have most likely known by this point that the war was lost, so given the subject matter of the book and the fact that it was written just before the unification of Germany I wonder what thoughts were going through the writers’s head?
I doubt they were happy ones.